Throughout the history of Christianity, most ordinary Christians have believed that true salvation can only be attained through the person of Jesus Christ,and that atheists, agnostics and the followers of other religions can be saved only by converting to Christianity. They have justified this unreasonable and arrogant belief by their dualistic interpretation of Christ’s saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14.6).
Because of their dualistic understanding of his spiritual teachings, they interpret the words ‘I am’ and ‘me’ that he used in this passage to denote only the individual person Jesus Christ, who was born at a certain time in a certain place called Bethlehem.
However, Christ did not mistake himself to be merely an individual person whose life was limited within a certain range of time and place. He knew himself to be the real and eternal spirit ‘I am’, which is unlimited by time and place. That is why he said,“Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8.58).
The person who was Jesus Christ was born long after the time of Abraham, but the spirit which is Jesus Christ exists always and everywhere, transcending the limits of time and place. Because that spirit is timeless, he did not say, “Before Abraham was born, I was”, but, “Before Abraham was born, I am”.
That timeless spirit ‘I am’, which Christ thus knew to be his own real self, is the same ‘I am’ that God revealed to be his real self when he said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3.14). Therefore,though Christ appears to us to be a separate individual person, he and his Father God are in fact one and the same reality, the spirit that exists within each one of us as our fundamental consciousness ‘I am’. That is why he said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10.30).
Therefore, when Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14.6), by the words ‘I am’ and ‘me’ he was referring not merely to the time-bound individual called Jesus, but to the eternal spirit ‘I am’, which he knew to be his own real self. The inner meaning of his words can therefore be expressed by rephrasing them thus, “The spirit ‘I am’ is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the spirit ‘I am’,which is the Father or source of all things, but by this same spirit”.